Ando once quoted ‘In all my works, light is an important controlling factor’. He was keen on the interplay of light and hence, it is explicitly represented in all of his projects. The 4×4 house is a uniquely thought over design. Though a very simplistic approach to the façade. The 4×4 house is a private residential house located on the shores of the Inland Sea in Hyogo, Japan. A contemporary modern architecture design with accurate geometry of four meters long, four meters wide, and four-story-high dimensions. The serene view of the still seawater is a sight to behold. Widely known, Ando was a problem-solving enthusiast. This site was a playground for him with an ample amount of obstacles and difficulties. The majority of them were related to optimizing maximum space on this small site since the rules and regulations were intact to protect the shore coast, the construction allowance was less. The critical planning of this tower was creatively very well executed. The 4×4 House had to adapt to the site as it was once hit by the Hanshin earthquake in the month of August 1995. It had caused massive destruction over the entire region. The landowner trusted the architect, expecting a strengthened structure for a durable tower on such an ecstatic view front.

4x4 House by Tadao Ando: From aftermath of an earthquake - Sheet1

 Tadao Ando envisioned the design of two towers along the sea belt, built-into different materials but appearing the same. By fate, over the completion of this tower, another client approached him to recreate the same structure on the neighboring piece of land. Fulfilling his vision. The first house was built on a small piece of land of 65m². The other one on the adjacent plot was 74m². Even though the structures are exact replicas, the material palette works differently, one of concrete the other of wood. Laminated pine and Paulownia timbers were used enormously.

These indeed have a great impact on the coastal landscape. Technology changed too, as the first structure hosts a continuous flight of steps, the other one has the presence of an elevator. Throughout his career, he created dualistic works, with a wide array of unique designs, like the twin wall, twin residence. The inspiration was derived from nature and the elements associated with it. The eminence of light, water, and wind along with human intervention established.

A poetic stance deciphered in his mind to relish the serenity of the seascape and oneness of anonymity. The structure is a solid concrete mass, which throws light on the appearance of a lighthouse in a sea. The facades are a culmination of the minimalistic finish of exposed concrete, with minimized openings to prevent the structure from lateral forces. Other precautions included the application of a waterproof sealant on the exterior and the plumbing units, the hose pipe, etc. for better prevention of the unusual site.

4x4 House by Tadao Ando: From aftermath of an earthquake - Sheet2
4x4 House by Tadao Ando: From aftermath of an earthquake - Sheet3

The displaced cube on the final floor allows a little enhancement of utilizable space. This topmost cubicle setting is glazed and allows one to feel as if sitting in a boat with wide expanses of the lagoon and the bright blue sky above. Structurally analyzing the harsh natural conditions of the area, the thick glass façade was covered with a shatter-proof film, along with reinforcement of glass with steel crossbars. The design stands out among all the elaborate structures of the world.

The 4×4 house is a classic example of accidental situations to inevitable design patterns. It is visually large on the scale for a thorough dynamic view. The staircase takes over a large part of the formidable space and hence is smartly presented as a visual treat from the exteriors via vast transparent windows. The topmost level cube has a glass elevation from top to bottom on the south side which performs and replicates the abstract of an enormous camera lens capturing the humongous site. The rest of the amenities like the basement etc. are packed in completely, along the façade. Well enough to be known as the 4×4 house. Tadao Ando very efficiently invaded brutalism, surrealism, and internationalism in this structure. He had a lot of proposals for this disaster-prone site during the process of design. The same went on further, even after the construction and completion of it. He always looked for interconnection and hence came up with tying up the built form along with the sandy beach of the coastal strip of this locality. He thought of expanding the staircase down to the beach with a wide patio. According to him, it would submerge under the sea during high tides and be a bridging gap for the mass and the freshwaters. Tadao Ando was a genius when it came to problem tackling, and rightly called meticulous, he came through all the hurdles along the way in the erection and final handing over the residences to the owners of this mystic space called the 4×4 house.


An ambitious architect, who has a keen interest in weaving words with wisdom and poetic stance. She is a self opinionated headstrong woman, taking Architecture by storm with her grip in design and its anomalies. She has a distinctive flare in her writings that leaves her readers thoughtful.